THE best player that Jack Hendry has faced in his career is Kylian Mbappe. Until now, at least. Because while the level of challenge that the Frenchman presented to the centre-back may be tough to top, his direct opponent on Saturday evening is one of the few in world football capable of doing so.

Hendry came up against Mbappe twice in Champions League matches for Club Brugge back in 2021, going down 4-1 in Paris in a game that Mbappe and Lionel Messi both hit doubles, but faring rather better on Belgian soil, helping his side to a creditable 1-1 draw and shutting Mbappe out in the process.

Hendy’s career has put him up against quality strikers on a regular basis, but none before or since have stretched him in the way that the world-class pace and power of Mbappe did, qualities that the Scotland defender is all too aware that Erling Haaland also possesses.

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That experience against Mbappe is though, he believes, the perfect preparation for the mammoth task that awaits him in Oslo as he tries to somehow stifle the Manchester City goal machine.

“[Mbappe] has lots of pace and likes to run in behind, and has that sharp turn of pace,” Hendry said.

“If you were to compare them, maybe Mbappe [is slightly better] just due to the speed, although Haaland is similar, very explosive.

“I think at that level it’s just about concentration levels and anticipating things with his movement and his touches, and trying to match him physically as well.

“I think that I’ve obviously got the physical attributes to play at that level and compete, so if I’m called upon on Saturday then we’ll see how I do.

“I relish playing against these kind of guys and I’ll do everything in my power to get the best of him.

“I’m extremely motivated, and what could be better than testing yourself against the best? For me, I back myself, and I’m sure all the other lads will back themselves as well.

“These are the type of players as footballers you always want to play against. His record this season speaks for itself. It is obviously amazing what he has achieved this season but why can’t Scotland stop him?

“At the end of the day, there is nothing to say we can’t. A lot of people have tried to this season, and they haven’t managed. We have got nothing to lose in a way and that’s the mindset we go into it with. He is going to be an extremely important player for them, but we are more than capable of believing we can stop him.”

Hendry and the Scotland coaching team have already identified areas where they believe they can stymie Haaland’s threat, providing that their focus remains constantly high throughout the match.

“From a personal point of view, I won’t change the way I analyse him compared to any other striker,” he said.

“I prepare the exact same way it doesn’t matter the name. I will look out his strengths and any weaknesses. There’s a whole list I can go through. For example, where he scores his goals is pretty obvious – it has all been in amongst the 18-yard-box.

“So, maybe he is a wee bit different in that respect to Mbappe, who likes to cut inside a bit more from the wing and sometimes plays on the wing.

“He is a real lethal striker, he has real good movement. Your concentration levels need to be extremely high, and he is very good at anticipating things.

“We just need to be as alert as possible throughout the 90 minutes. No lapse of concentration. We just need to give it our best shot.”

Hendry has in fact also faced off against Pep Guardiola’s team in recent times, though that was before Haaland arrived on the City scene. It is another experience though that he thinks he can lean on when playing for his country this weekend.

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“I played against Manchester City twice last season,” he said.

“For me they were the best team in the world that I have ever played against. Just due to their movement and understanding of the game.

“Haaland was not there then and they played with a false nine so it might have been slightly different this season, when they have tended to go a bit longer.

“With that experience it only gives you more confidence playing on this stage and those games helped me massively, and I managed to play in the last 16 this season. Unfortunately, I picked up an injury shortly afterwards.

“These sorts of stages only help you grow as a footballer and gain confidence knowing you can compete at that level and play against the best.”

The lack of an inferiority complex when coming up against such talents is a mark of not only Hendry’s mindset, but this Scotland squad as a whole, with the high levels where much of the squad is now operating – allied to some stunning results in the dark blue – stoking their belief that they can go up against anybody in world football with a fighting chance of victory.

“I think that just comes with success, and we have had success recently winning games and playing against these types of sides,” he said.

“Obviously at club level when you’ve got a group that are more accustomed to playing against these types of players, then that gives you confidence as well going into the group with nothing to fear.

“I know that this squad has nothing to fear from this group, and we definitely go into every game with that mindset, trying to get a win but not just trying, believing it. And this group do have that.”